As technology becomes more affordable and employment opportunities continue to be scarce – the latest ONS figures showed that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose by 10,100 in October 2012 to 1.58 million – more and more people, particularly from the younger generation, are starting their own businesses.
As long as you have dedication, drive and a sound business idea, choosing to start your own entrepreneurial venture can have plenty of advantages. But before you take the plunge, there are a few things that you should consider to ensure that you’re sufficiently prepared for every eventuality that self-employment may throw at you.
- Find a gap in the market and carry out extensive, thorough research to ensure there is a customer base for your product or service – try conducting a survey or arranging a focus group of your target market. By ensuring a gap in the market you should something an area or product that no one else does. You could perhaps follow a trend but add your own personal twist to the service or product. Find local business units which you could rent temporarily so your idea can grow.
- Write a detailed business plan – including financial projections – with reference points and milestones for you to achieve as you develop your business over time. Think about how you can advertise your business in the local area and how you can make use of advertising online at very little cost. Set up a social media page and get shouting about your business. You have to think progressively about your business and you may not make much money at first however if you look at it as an on-going project then you can expand and develop.
- Carefully investigate all of the legal and financial ramifications of setting up your own business: you may need to inform your landlord, the local authority or your mortgage lender that you’ve become self-employed. It is important that you carefully research all legal and financial regulations to ensure that your business is running legally and that your business practices are all above board.
- Choose the correct insurance cover for your business: there are many options, from professional indemnity to public liability and simple home insurance. Ensuring that you have the correct insurance is key as you need to keep safe your contents and your technology.
- Register your company with HMRC and, if you decide to make it a limited company, with Companies House – this will separate your personal finances from those of the company.
As well as getting on top of all the legal issues and making a detailed business plan, you will also need to create an efficient and comfortable working space, complete with all of the technology you need to make the most of your opportunities.
- If you’re not investing in business premises, find room in your home for a dedicated workspace. You might think you can just type away on a laptop in front of the TV, but you’ll soon find it distracting. Set aside a space with a comfortable chair, a desk and all of the essentials you need to work.
- Invest in technology. A high-quality laptop or desktop is essential for the vast majority of businesses, whether they are technology-based or not. You may also want to invest in a webcam to carry out face-to-face meetings from afar, or a VoIP phone to cut your costs.